Oct 12, 2016
Oct 12, 2016

Part 1: Premier League predictions – Pinnacle vs. Mark Lawrenson

An introduction to the Bookmaker vs. Soccer Pundit challenge

Find out who is the most efficient in terms of soccer betting predictions

Part 1: Premier League predictions – Pinnacle vs. Mark Lawrenson
Soccer pundits are often portrayed as experts of the game. Primarily ex-professionals or managers, their opinions will sometimes influence a bettor’s decision. But do they know their stuff? Over the course of the Premier League season, we will be calculating Pinnacle’s soccer predictions and comparing them with BBC soccer expert Mark Lawrenson. Read on to find out the results.

We previously wrote an article that compared the predictive powers of ex-Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson and the Pinnacle handicap markets. We were fairly evenly matched with one of soccer’s most famous talking heads in 2013 so have decided to reignite the rivalry and find out who is more efficient in terms of predicting results.

Although Lawrenson tries to predict the actual score of each Premier League match, for the purposes of this article we will be using the result from his predictions. As Pinnacle doesn’t provide any kind of betting predictions, our handicap market will be used to determine whether a team is expected to win, lose or draw - with -0.25, -0.5 and -0.75 handicaps being rounded up to a win. 

Tipsters and their betting predictions have flooded the betting industry in recent years. The information provided by these self-proclaimed 'experts' can sometimes be misconstrued as specialist knowledge – something known as the Green Lumber Fallacy.

Whilst Mark Lawrenson and alike may have experience in playing soccer, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the oracles of soccer predictions. The Pinnacle traders and behaviour of our bettors should, in theory, provide more informed predictions. But are they more accurate than a respected pundit? There is only one way to find out.

To make things more interesting, we will be analysing the predictions with a hypothetical €10 bet placed on each game.

Week 1

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Neither bookmaker nor pundit got off to the greatest of starts in week one. Lawrenson enjoyed a slightly better start thanks to predicting a draw in the Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur game – with closing odds of 3.540. In terms of betting performance, Pinnacle would be down 54.48, while Lawrenson would have lost 19.08.

Week 2

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Both Pinnacle and the BBC expert showed signs of improvement in week two. Matching one another with exactly the same predictions, both achieved the same score and made the same amount of profit. The 22.11 profit recouped some of the losses from week one.

Week 3

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Week three was a good week all round. While both bookmaker and pundit scored a credible 8/10, the fact that Lawrenson picked the Southampton vs. Sunderland draw - at closing odds of 4.780 - meant he made a profit of 71.30, compared to Pinnacle’s 54.50.

Week 4

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Lawrenson’s draw predictions cost him dearly in week four. Pinnacle may have managed to get five predictions right but the selections still resulted in a 4.68 loss. A 33.71 loss for Lawrenson considerably reduced the amount of profit he had built up in previous weeks.

Week 5

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Similarly to week three, Pinnacle and Lawrenson had the same number of correct predictions but slightly different selections benefitted the talking head in terms of betting. Perhaps influenced by emotional bias, Liverpool’s triumph over Chelsea – at closing odds of 3.520 – meant Lawrenson made 25.54 profit, compared to Pinnacle’s 11.54.

In addition to a team of expert traders, bettors also contribute to Pinnacle’s predictions by making the market shift. This influence of the wisdom of the crowd can impact the handicap market or odds on the 1X2 in any given match.

It is worth noting that Lawrenson makes his predictions on a Friday – before any additional information forms our closing odds – so if these were actually his betting predictions, he would still be able to find an edge.

Although Pinnacle has slightly outscored Lawrenson in terms of the number of correct predictions, Lawrenson’s ability to pick a winning underdog once in a while means he would have made more money if it were a betting contest. Even though Pinnacle has scored 29/50 and Lawrenson 28/50, the latter would currently be 66.16 in profit, while Pinnacle would have made 29.00.

It could be said, using only this small sample size, that Pinnacle is more efficient in terms of soccer predictions, while Lawrenson would still enjoy a profitable return if betting on his predictions at Pinnacle.

Part two of this article will focus on the next five Premier League fixtures. Will Pinnacle and the pundit continue to be so closely matched?

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